Nation & World

Rep. Steve King posts meme bragging red states have '8 trillion bullets'

Social media post comes as Iowa representative wants committee assignments back

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) holds a Feb. 18 town hall in Rock Rapids with constituents and again defends his statements to a reporter for The New York Times. (Jerry Mennenga/Tribune News Service)
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) holds a Feb. 18 town hall in Rock Rapids with constituents and again defends his statements to a reporter for The New York Times. (Jerry Mennenga/Tribune News Service)
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U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa posted a meme online Saturday about a hypothetical civil war between “blue states” fighting over which bathroom to use and “red states” with trillions of bullets.

The post is an image of two figures composed of traditionally Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning states in fighting postures with text superimposed over the top. The caption reads: “Folks keep talking about another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”

“Wonder who would win?” the Northwest Iowa Republican wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page.

King’s posting had disappeared from the page by Monday morning. His campaign office did not immediately respond Monday to an inquiry from the Sioux City Journal on the post.

The image appears to have originated in a 2013 New York Times book review by Michael Kinsley titled “War of Umbrage.”

King, who represents Iowa’s 4th District, is a strong supporter of gun right and speaks against gun control measures. His Facebook page has other posts related to guns, including two from Sunday, one of which shares the post of another person who said President Donald Trump is not responsible for the Friday shooting in which 50 people were killed in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

But this post comes at a time when Muslim civil rights leaders and others have urged political leaders to be thoughtful in their rhetoric in light of the mass shooting.

King may have posted the meme without much deliberation, as it escaped his notice that Iowa is pictured as a “blue state.”

The post follows weeks of lobbying by King for U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to reinstate him to committee posts.

King was stripped of his committee assignments by Republican leadership following years of white nationalist statements, most recently in an interview with The New York Times.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in the January article.

King disputes the quote in a letter to McCarthy that he has asked supporters to endorse.

“In January 2019, The New York Times misquoted me and misrepresented my beliefs as a freedom-loving American,” King wrote.

The form letter also includes a button to donate to the King for Congress political committee.

King was defiant in a February interview with Iowa Public Television insisting, “I have nothing to apologize for.”

While King disavowed white nationalism, he also argued that term has been “weaponized by the left” to mean racism, but did not provide his own definition of it.

King has often voiced the far-right theory that immigration and diversity will lead to a collapse of Western civilization. Advocacy groups dedicated to rooting out hate speech say “Western civilization” used in that context is a euphemism for whites.

Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal contributed to this report.

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